By: Mark Diaz
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How Big Is The Drug Trafficking Problem In Galveston County?
Drug trafficking is a significant problem in Texas and is becoming particularly acute in Galveston County. Learn more about the drug trafficking issue in Galveston County and related information below. If you think you were wrongfully charged with drug trafficking, it is vital to take action immediately. The Galveston drug trafficking lawyers at Mark Diaz & Associates can help.
What Is Considered To Be Drug Trafficking in Texas?
Drug trafficking means transporting and distributing illegal drugs, such as heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, and more recently Fentanyl. You also can be charged with drug trafficking in Texas if you sell prescription drugs that are not yours. Drug trafficking is illegal under Texas and Federal law.
You can be charged with drug trafficking if you do the following, according to Texas law:
If the state or federal authorities catch you possessing and moving narcotics in Galveston or elsewhere, you are transporting illegal drugs. For the prosecutor to convict you, you need to have done the transportation on purpose. While they can charge you with a crime, your Galveston drug trafficking defense attorney may show you did not know that you had the drugs.
For example, perhaps you were told by your employer to take a company vehicle from Moody Mansion or Moody Gardens in Galveston to the Houston International Airport. However, you were not told there were 10 kilograms of cocaine in the trunk. Your attorney will try to prove you did not know about the drugs.
The law states that distributing drugs means selling them or giving them to another person to sell. So, you can give drugs to an associate to sell, and you still may be convicted for Galveston drug trafficking.
Possess Drugs With The Intent To Sell Them
This is often a gray area where a drug possession charge can turn into a more severe drug trafficking one. Possession with the intent to sell drugs requires the prosecutor to prove they were intended for commercial sale, not personal consumption. It is common for law enforcement to threaten this charge to elicit a confession. So, you should always demand to speak with an attorney before providing information to the police that undermines your case.
How Much Drug Trafficking Is There In Texas?
Because of its proximity to the Mexico border, Texas and Galveston are significant centers of drug trafficking. Millions of dollars of narcotics are smuggled into the Galveston area every year.
Evidence Growing Of Increasing Drug Trafficking In Houston And Galveston
A recent example of the growing drug trafficking problem in the area was seen during a major drug bust in neighboring Harris County. Federal agents arrested a total of 50 people at the end of 2021. The suspects were arrested in Houston and Galveston and were allegedly involved in drug trafficking in Houston and Galveston.
The federal indictment alleged that the suspects were trafficking cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, marijuana, and heroin. They also may have committed money laundering and illegally smuggled money from the US to Mexico to aid with drug trafficking operations.
The federal agents seized at least 150 kilograms of cocaine, 140 kilograms of methamphetamine, and 18 kilograms of fentanyl and heroin. They could receive up to life in prison and pay millions in fines if convicted.
Also, the Department of Justice recently reported they prosecuted a Galveston drug trafficking ring for preparing and trafficking cocaine to people who live in Texas City and La Marque. The federal government alleged that the seven suspects conspired to distribute cocaine powder in Texas between 2017 and 2019. Some of the men also were charged with trafficking crack and money laundering.
All suspects, in this case, face between 10 years and life in prison, as well as up to $10 million in fines. Those charged with additional federal crimes could receive 20 years and up to a $1 million fine.,
How Do You Prove Drug Trafficking?
Drug trafficking is related to drug possession. It requires that the accused was in knowing possession of illegal drugs. So, you cannot be a drug trafficker if you did not know that you have the drugs. Or, you may have thought the drugs you had on you were legal.
Drug trafficking requires the Galveston prosecutor to prove that you worked to sell, transport, or import the drugs. Or you intended to sell or deliver the narcotics. If you did the latter, this makes the crime a felony.
Drug trafficking and drug possession can seem similar when you first look at it. But prosecution for drug trafficking in Galveston requires the justice system to show more evidence to show that you possessed drugs with the intent to sell them. Evidence suggesting drug trafficking includes the presence of scales and small plastic baggies when you were arrested.
The prosecutor may also need to show you had a lot of cash. Or, you had business records showing all of your sales and purchases. The state or federal government also may use witness testimony of who bought or sold your products or knew about the drug trafficking operation.
What Happens In Texas With A Drug Trafficking Charge?
The courts in Texas take drug trafficking charges seriously. The sentencing guidelines for drug trafficking are laid out in the Texas Health and Safety Code. The penalties for a drug trafficking conviction depend on the type of drug involved, how much you possessed, and the number of previous offenses. It also matters whether the drug offense happened in a school zone.
The outcome of your drug trafficking case can be severe. Possible penalties include being convicted of a felony. Sentences begin at six to 12 months in jail and a fine of $10,000 for a state jail felony conviction. However, more significant drugs may require a state or federal sentence of 25 years and hundreds of thousands in fines. The worst penalty for a first-degree felony could be a life prison sentence and at least a $250,000 fine.
When Does A Texas Drug Trafficking Charge Become Federal?
A severe drug crime such as drug trafficking can be prosecuted in federal courts when the federal government wants to take the case. However, the feds get involved in many cases when the drugs cross state lines. Or the drug offense occurred on federal property.
Of course, a lot of drug trafficking involves moving drugs over long distances, so it is a good question why not all drug trafficking charges are prosecuted federally. Generally, the federal government is interested in larger drug trafficking cases. Smaller ones tend to be prosecuted in the state courts.
What Are Common Mistakes When Arrested For Drug Trafficking?
If you are arrested for drug trafficking in Galveston, you face a severe problem. But the situation worsens if you make the following common mistakes.
First, you should never talk to the police during or after the arrest. Some drug trafficking suspects think they can convince the police that they are innocent. This is never the case. Talking to the police without an attorney will only put you in a deeper hole.
The police will use anything you say against you. If they arrest you on drug trafficking charges, they want to ensure you are convicted. So, you are always better off being silent and calling your attorney.
Second, you should not wait until the state charges you with drug trafficking to talk to a lawyer. You might think the police will change their mind or not get the needed evidence, so you can wait to see what happens. No, it is best to call your attorney once you are questioned about a drug trafficking charge. The more time the attorney has, the more likely he can build a strong defense.
Third, it is a mistake to try to talk to the witness that accused you of drug trafficking. If you speak to the victim, you could get them to drop the charge. The problem is this can make your situation even worse. If you try to talk to a witness, you could also be charged with witness tampering.
Plus, trying to talk to the witness may only anger them and worsen the situation. They might call the state attorney and make it even harder for your attorney to clean up the problem.
Waiting to see what the public defender can do before calling an attorney is a mistake. The damage will likely be done if you wait. Once the public defender has done discovery and received a potential offer, that may be a ‘take it or leave it’ situation.
Talk To A Galveston Drug Trafficking Lawyer Today
Anyone charged with drug trafficking in Galveston faces many years in prison. Plus, you will have a felony criminal record and deal with many future life challenges. But it does not need to be this way. You should retain a Galveston drug trafficking lawyer from Mark Diaz & Associates to protect your freedom.
Our Galveston drug crime attorneys will fight your drug trafficking charge in Galveston and Texas City, Tiki Island, Alvin, Algoa, Santa Fe, Hitchcock, La Marque, Bayou Vista, San Leon, Dickinson, Kemah, Clear Lake Shores, League City, and Friendswood. Contact us today at (409) 515-6170 for legal assistance.